Delta puts its brand inside L.A. Olympics logo as part of new sponsor perk

Delta puts its brand inside L.A. Olympics logo as part of new sponsor perk

Olympic sponsors have long put their logos beside trademarks like the Olympic rings. But now organizers of the 2028 Los Angeles Games are giving top-tier sponsors Delta, Salesforce and Comcast the chance to put their brand images inside its official logo.

The L.A. Olympics logo, unveiled in 2020, is already unique—featuring a constantly morphing “A” that seeks to reflect the creativity and diversity of the city. Delta is the first of the three brands to seize on the sponsor logo opportunity, unveiling today a mark that includes two versions of the airline’s wing symbol in the shape of the Greek alphabet letter D (read as “Delta”). One version shows the symbol being drawn.

The logos were created by Delta’s in-house studio WindowSeat. The brand also worked with agency Octagon, which oversees its sports marketing.

This logo collaboration aims to give “some of that storytelling ability to our partners, stakeholder, and fans,” said Dave Mingey, senior VP and head of partnership, management and activation for U.S. Olympic and Paralympic properties. More than 30 versions of the logo already exist, created by L.A. figures ranging from Olympic snowboarder Chloe Kim to singer-songwriter Billie Eilish.

The sponsor logo customization is an option offered to founding brands–the highest level of sponsorship–at no extra cost, according to LA28 Chief Marketing Officer Amy Gleeson. The other founding sponsors, Comcast and Salesforce, are currently working on their logos, said Gleeson. 

Using Olympics intellectual property in such a way marks another perk for sponsors. Olympics organizers must continue to add value as the rise of digital and social media has made it easier for non-sponsors to “ambush” the Olympics by alluding to the Games without using trademarked assets.

When the logo has to be static, such as with out-of-home ads, sponsors can choose a variety of logos. “We go out of our way not to say this is the one version,” Gleeson said. 

The final version of Delta’s logo is set to be revealed today at a media event announcing the newest developments in the airline’s infrastructure project at Los Angeles International Airport, which is called Delta Sky Way. The $2.3 billion project includes connecting terminals 2 and 3 and linking them to the international terminal. The project is part of the company’s $12 billion expenditure at airports across the country.

Although Delta’s logo has been finalized for several months, “we wanted to pick the right moment,” said Emmakate Young, Delta’s managing director of brand marketing, sponsorships and Olympics/Paralympics. “This terminal opening represents such an investment for Delta.”

Delta announced its contract with the LA 2028 Olympics in 2020. The sponsorship deal is worth $400 million, according to Sports Business Journal. Young declined to confirm this figure but said “it’s a massive investment.” The airline also replaced United as Team USA’s official airline during the Beijing Games this year and will continue this role in Paris in 2024, Milan in 2026 and L.A. in 2028.

Brands have the freedom to change their logo as they go, according to Gleeson. Young said that Delta doesn’t plan to majorly change the logo. “This (design) will remain the core of the logo,” and the only change will be animating it, she said. 

Creating an animated logo and inviting brands to take part in creating it creates an “integrated visual representation of their involvement,” said T. Bettina Cornwell, head of the University of Oregon’s department of marketing in an email interview. The letter A “must become a representation of the sponsoring brand’s values,” she said.

The idea of combining logos isn’t that new, said Michael Goldman, professor in the sport management program at the University of San Francisco. Brands have created composite logos with the FIFA World Cup or previous Olympic Games by putting their symbol next to the event logo. But integrating the logos “does take it a step further,” he said.

However, “by itself, (creating the logo) may not achieve much,” said Goldman. “It’s all about what Delta does with this.” Consumer engagement is key, he said. “Get me to do something, get me to be involved.” 

An example of this would be putting the logo on a plane, using augmented reality to allow people on a plane to scan the logo to give them extra content on their phones, said Goldman.

Delta plans to activate at community events in L.A. and continue to use the logo around airports, with social and paid media in the future.

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